Almost a year after the COVID-19 pandemic completely uprooted our day-to-day life and economy, many Americans are still looking for work. In addition to those that are unemployed, high school and college students are now planning for the summer and figuring out what job opportunities are available for them. Like always, where there is vulnerability there are scammers. Those desperately looking for work and students with limited job experience might fall victim to someone promising a great opportunity or an easy way to make money. According to the Better Business Bureau, reports of employment scams, especially work from home scams, grew last year and are expected to spike this year. Scammers use the same online platforms that legitimate employers do, they might have a logo and a website but, at the end of the day they are after your money or personal information. Luckily, there are trends and patterns you can lookout for to prevent yourself from becoming a victim.
In a common employment scam, you interview for a job virtually and are offered the job in a short amount of time. You are then connected to a human resources representative that asks for personal and financial information such as your driver’s license, social security, bank account number etc. to “set up your file” or “verify your identity”. When you try to get in touch with them, you’ll find the phone number is no longer in service and the website is gone.
In another example, scammers will send you a check with instructions to deposit it. After you do they will claim to have overpaid the employee and ask to send a certain amount back via wire transfer or gift cards. After the money is received and the initial check doesn’t clear, the scammer will stop responding to all communication.
You see an ad saying you can earn a lot of money quickly and easily. You reach out and they begin by putting you through their “training program” or granting you “special access” to information, all for a fee. You get pressured into paying for more services and “certifications” but in the end you won’t get anything in return and you’ll be out of money.
Before you reach out about any job opportunity, consider doing the following to make sure you’re dealing with a legitimate employer.
- Research the company and position that is being advertised. A quick way to know if the job posting is a scam is to research the name of the company with the word “scam”, “complaint” or “lawsuit” next to it. You can also search the company on Better Business Bureau website for more insights.
- If the company or business requires a license or registration to operate, check online to see if the have one or call the agencies that provides the license or registration for verification.
- Likewise, review the company’s address, phone number and email address. It’s surprisingly easy to falsify this information. If you can, visit the company’s physical address and search for the phone number and email address online to see if it’s used anywhere else.
Getting job can make a real difference in someone’s life. The best way to ensure you are landing a good opportunity is to make smart decisions and not let the excitement distract you from warning signs and red flags that your personal or financial information is at risk.
Help stop scammers and prevent others from falling for their tricks by reporting any scam you come across to the FTC at ReportFraud.FTC.gov. This information is shared with more than 3,000 federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies across the country helping to fight fraud.
To see what scams are occurring in your community visit, BBB.org/ScamTracker
To learn more about scams, fraud and identity theft visit, MaricopaCountyAttorney.org/ScamsAndFraud